Generation Z is Still Listening

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The newest base of consumers advertisers should get to know are known as Generation Z and they make up roughly 25% of the population, consisting of one of the largest generations so far. Their media consumption habits differ from previous generations as Gen Z does not know a world without technology, enabling them to adapt quickly and embrace new digital developments. Another major differentiation with this tech savvy generation is the way they listen to radio.

Gen Zers overwhelmingly prefer connecting to the radio through streaming services in addition to other audio platforms like Spotify and Pandora. These digital platforms offer more music options and shows than ever before. Although Gen Zers aren’t consuming radio in a traditional way, doesn’t mean they aren’t listening, as radio reaches 88% of Gen Z weekly. While this generation can discover a new artist, band or song through a configured playlist on Spotify or Pandora, they tend to reconnect through the radio. Since radio provides a more personal connection, whether that be through on-air live interviews, events and special artist giveaways, this is something Spotify and Pandora are unable to sponsor in real-time.

Source: Nielsen 2017

Source: Nielsen 2017

Comparatively, AM/FM radio currently plays a smaller role in Gen Z’s lives than it does in their parents, but some researchers theorize this is because they are not adults and in a different stage of their lives. Yet, two-thirds of Gen Zers report discovering new products, movies and events by actively listening to the radio. In order to capture Gen Z listeners, radio stations like the iHeart community have already adapted their own on-demand streaming app, which consists of traditional radio and podcasts so Gen Zers can listen anytime, anywhere.

What is clear is that these young adults care about connecting through digital formats on their own terms. Streaming radio apps provide an opportunity for traditional radio to connect with Gen Zers whether it is through their Amazon Alexa in their living room or through their smartphone on their way to class. Radio, a more personal medium, can only continue to fonder a stronger relationship with Gen Z, as long it can keep up digitally.  

Smart Speakers Boost Radio

“Alexa, start my day.” Smart speakers are beginning to change our daily routines and have become one of the most rapidly adopted tech products since the smartphone. Companies including Google, Amazon, and Apple are all carving out their place in the smart speaker market as users are growing at a compound growth rate of approximately 48 percent annually. According to RBC, almost 41% of homes in the US have at least one smart speaker device. Once you’re an owner, it appears their popularity is contagious: more than half of all smart-speaker-equipped homes report owning multiple speakers placed in various rooms, according to Strategy Analytics. You can listen to what you want with the ease of voice command – no buttons, no wires, no clicking, no scrolling, and best of all, no hassle.

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Many Americans are unwilling to compromise on convenience, and smart speakers deliver exactly that.

Smart speaker convenience creates a unique opportunity for listeners to listen to the radio more than they did before. Recent research released by iHeart suggests that 70% of smart speaker users in the US report using their device to listen to the radio. On top of this, Jacobs Media studied that a substantial portion of AM/FM radio listeners have increased their consumption of radio after bringing a smart speaker into their home. Study after study continuously establishes a strong correlation between the increase of radio listenership and smart speaker audience growth that is hard to ignore.

Finally, smart speakers are not only functionally efficient, they are also aesthetically pleasing. These modern designs of luxury pivot radio, an almost 100-year-old medium, into the 21st century with power and ease. Americans are still choosing to listen to the traditional media format of AM/FM radio, but they appreciate the sleek design smart speakers offer. Turning on the radio is as easy as turning on the lights with a smart speaker and it’s easy to remember voice activated commands and controls, which create seamless transitions for the bustle of busy lifestyles. And keep in mind, that since smart speakers are fairly new, it’s safe to assume that radio consumption rates will continue to rise as smart speakers’ popularity grows.

Radio Adds Analytics

Ever since the first advertisement, marketers have been looking for ways to measure and quantify their results.  We have come a long way since the late 19th century’s John Wanamaker, a pioneer in today’s marketing stage, said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.”

Today, even with all the available analytics tools at our fingertips, it still isn’t always clear which advertising channels are yielding the best outcomes.  But most would agree that some feedback is better than none when analyzing advertising results.

While a little late to the game, radio advertising recently launched its own analytics tracking program. Companies like Owl Analytics have started providing a similar product where they track Google searches for a brand’s radio commercial immediately after it airs. At the local market level, these services track branded Google searches within an eight second window. We have found it a useful tool to help clients improve their advertising strategies.

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While far from perfect, these services provide a glimpse into what happens when the radio commercial airs. Granted, some commercials or brands aren’t likely to lead to a Google search conversion, but when enough people do visit a brand’s website, it offers valuable directional information like:

  • Which station or stations generate the biggest lift in Google searches?

  • What creatives/commercials are having the biggest impact?

  • Tracking engagement by time of day and day of the week.

  • Bench-marking results against industry/category averages.

Similar to any analytics tool, alone, it tells only part of the story. However, for the first time, radio can provide some insights to illustrate what works best and to create a path to optimize results.

Perhaps best of all, radio analytics reporting is available at no charge to advertisers, and may just offer priceless results.